VITAL land assets worth more than £32 million have been transferred to Milton Keynes Council.
On Monday, the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) completed the landmark deal, allowing the administration to over full control of planning decisions in the area.
In October, the government agreed the transfer of assets and responsibilities from the HCA in a ground breaking deal, making the council the sole planning authority in Milton Keynes for the first time. The council has paid around £32 million for the land which will transfer from the HCA, which includes sites for new homes, offices and commercial premises in Central Milton Keynes and across the borough.
Council Leader Andrew Geary said that the historic transfer allows Milton Keynes Council to have a more direct say in the shape of the city in the future.
He said: “It’s no exaggeration to say that this an historic occasion, not just for the council but for the whole of Milton Keynes.
“For the first time since the inception of the new city in 1967, all the powers to determine the nature, quality and pace of development in Milton Keynes – both through the exercise of planning powers and through the ownership of land with significant development potential – will be held by the locally accountable body, Milton Keynes Council. This is truly localism in action.”
As well as Andrew Geary and Milton Keynes Council’s Chief Executive, David Hill, the two Milton Keynes MPs, Iain Stewart and Mark Lancaster, who have facilitated the discussions with Government Ministers on the transfer, attended the ceremony along with other dignitaries.
Mark Lancaster said: “It was a great pleasure to help ensure that such a large amount of land from across the city has been transferred from the HCA to Milton Keynes Council.
“It will enable the people of Milton Keynes to have far greater power over the development of our city and is a sign that localism is working.”
Iain Stewart added: “I was very pleased to be able to assist in this matter.
“It is an important milestone for Milton Keynes as it means that local people, through their democratically elected councillors, will have a much greater say on how we develop our city in the future.”
The assets being purchased from the HCA were transferred to a new body – the Milton Keynes Development Partnership (MKDP) – set up by Milton Keynes Council to bring an entrepreneurial and commercial approach to the development of these assets.
The newly appointment independent Chair of the Milton Keynes Development Partnership, John Duggan, said: “These are exciting times for the future development of Milton Keynes.
“The MKDP will seek to ensure that these assets are used to bring the greatest possible benefit to all the citizens of MK, reinforcing the potential of the city as an economic powerhouse.
“We are now looking to recruit independent members to join the Board, to bring additional commercial acumen to our consideration of future options for the development of these property assets.”